Jail misuse and overuse have taken a heavy toll on our communities. They have become warehouses for people with mental health and substance abuse issues — rather than a place for those who pose a flight risk or threat to public safety. Local policy efforts and practices can contribute to the national movement to end mass incarceration.
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s five year, $100 million Safety and Justice Challenge aims to change the way America thinks about and uses jails leading to the reduction of over-incarceration. Jurisdictions across the United States receive support and assistance to implement practices and policies to create more effective local justice systems.
The foundation has announced additional funding in the amount of $11.3 million to eight of its current sites to expand and continue their jail reduction efforts. The sites that will receive additional funding include:
- Ada County, Idaho
- Cook County, Illinois
- Los Angeles County, California
- Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
- Multnomah County, Oregon
- Palm Beach County, Florida
- Pennington County, South Dakota
- Shelby County, Tennessee
This additional funding further demonstrates MacArthur’s dedication and commitment to changing the way local American communities think about jails.
As a strategic ally of the Safety and Justice Challenge, the National League of Cities (NLC) is excited by the increasing awareness building around this effort. Minimizing jail overuse and misuse is a difficult challenge in the United States. There are many policies and practices that states, counties and cities can use to positively impact local justice systems. Cities have the opportunity to learn best practices and lessons that develop through the Safety and Justice Challenge.
NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education and Families (YEF Institute) supports the goals of the Safety and Justice Challenge and strives to impact this larger movement through the Jails and Justice Technical Assistance which provides intensive support over a twenty-month period to five cities to reduce their jail populations. Through MacArthur’s Safety and Justice Challenge, and the YEF Institute’s Jails and Justice Technical Assistance, NLC is eager to continue helping local communities across the country rethink jail use.
About the author: Tara Dhanraj is a Senior Associate for Justice Reform at the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.